Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chris Brogan's Sponsored/Paid Blog Post for Kmart.



Chris Brogan recently completed a sponsored blog post for Kmart. Take a look at the post at Dad-O-Matic

I admire Chris Brogan and follow him actively on Twitter and his blog. He is generous and helpful to everyone…and religiously follows the Twitter ethic of “I won’t spam you but I’ll help you out.” He’s smart, honest, and spends tremendous time to help people.

But, I think he’s taken a misstep here. Hang in there. This isn't an attack on Chris, but a suggestion for everyone (Chris-style) of how to approach paid blog posts.

A respected brand is a precious thing, and Chris is a very respected (and valuable) brand in the social media universe. Is this withdrawal from the brand bank worth it? Well he’s commented that this is an "experiment" in monetizing social media. He has every right to trial ideas. But was the "experiment" with the right client in the right environment…I don”t think so. Usually celebrity spokespeople (and that’s what we have here) should, ideally, be expert in the field. Here that field is evaluating retail store offers. Is Chris really qualified? Or is being a parent enough?

My problem is in the Kmart piece he seems to have lost his voice. The smart, considered Chris Brogan is struggling to find a voice to match the assignment. Too much shilling–not enough of the very smart, helpful objectivity I’m used to. Ironically, he’s out of his domain.

Does Chris ever write/blog from Starbucks? I'd love to see a sponsored blog post about that. Less forced. A more natural relationship. Lots of chances for fun. And a view of what he likes to order...and what he doesn't. Realistic. Fun. Likely effective.

A better--more believable story. Better marketing, in my opinion.

Here's an ideal example of sponsorship working well (albeit at a high level). I’d look to U2’s Vertigo TV spot for Apple itunes. U2 adamantly refuses to do spots to protect their very carefully crafted brand. But iTunes was a perfect opportunity. Tie into a very cool custom product (and a pre-loaded U2 black iPod). And then just perform Vertigo beautifully shot and produced as an association with itunes. Great promo for both brands. You don't have to be U2 to follow the model.



Chris…you deserve much, much better. Try it again. Choose a better sponsor. I have some thoughts. Tweet me up @scottlackey.

I'm expecting controversy. Let me know what you think. I answer all comments unless they're links to "How to Become and Internet Millionaire in 7 Days". Thanks for stopping by. Happy Holidays.

Please visit our new group blog on television marketing, which includes posts by noted new media critic Daisy Whitney, Cable Marketing.

8 comments:

nooozeguy said...

Hi Scott,

I agree with you, both about Chris Brogan being one of the premier social-media minds and about the Kmart blog being a misstep.
I wrote a post on the Brogan-Kmart blog with somewhat similar points as your post.
I think having an actual, unpaid customer would have driven the point home more effectively for Kmart.
Thanks,
Josh

Thom Singer said...

Not sure I agree. I think that too many people (not saying you) want to make social media and bloggers "pure". But social media works only when it is transparent, and real. Brogan told a story, that is what always works to draw an audience. If he "lost his voice" people will stop reading. That is the only test.

I think that having a platform, as Mr. Brogan does, brings with it many opportunities. He was honest up front about being paid for the shopping adventure.

I think more of his audience will be fine with it than will see it as a federal case against the purity of social media. Just my guess.

Scott Lackey said...

Hi Nooozeguy:

Thanks for the comment. And for the link...some good POV's on both sides. I think it's an important development worth considering.

From an advertising/marketing standpoint I'm not sure an actual customer would command much attention. I'd look more for a shopping/retail blogger/father.

Scott Lackey said...

Thom:

Thanks for stopping by and for your considered response. I really appreciate it.

You're right...no way do I want to make social media "pure." Or (very important) make a "federal case" against it. I'm a marketing guy exploring exciting new ideas to take to clients. And social media has enormous marketing potential.

My overriding point here is not in opposition to Chris at all (although I think it may be viewed that way despite my insistence about his generosity and smarts).

Instead, it's a suggestion to Chris and to anyone else that's exploring paid blogging that they protect their brand. And select their sponsors carefully. If he tweeted an interest in doing a paid blog post I think he'd get enormous interest.

Does Chris ever write/blog from Starbucks? I'd love to see a sponsored blog post about that. Less forced. A more natural relationship. Lots of chances for fun. And a view of what he likes to order...and what he doesn't. Realistic. Fun. Likely effective.

A better--more believable story. Better marketing, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I take such offense to your post. First you say, "Usually celebrity spokespeople (and that’s what we have here) should, ideally, be expert in the field. Here that field is evaluating retail store offers. Is Chris really qualified? Or is being a parent enough?"

And then you go on to say, "Does Chris ever write/blog from Starbucks? I'd love to see a sponsored blog post about that. Less forced. A more natural relationship. Lots of chances for fun. And a view of what he likes to order...and what he doesn't. Realistic. Fun. Likely effective."

How are the two ANY different from each other?! He is K-mart's target audience. He's a dad in his 30's with the "old school" image of K-mart they're trying to combat. He has a huge audience. He posted his genuine opinions about how he got to spend $500 that was given to him. He even figured out a way to give to charity in the process. He did this on a site FOR dads, in a space where they're looking for resources and guidance in navigating this crazy parenting world during the holidays.

Why would writing a sponsored post for Starbucks make this situation any better or different in your mind? Believable or not, he buys stuff like real humans, and because he is well known in the blogging and social media space, he was paid to do it and write about it. He was genuine and forthright. And I learned some things about K-mart I did not know. Brilliant marketing idea on K-mart and Izea's part.

I think there's an extreme amount of jealousy going on here and people need to just get over it. I'm going to keep learning from him while the rest of you fail to make successful business models and money in 2009, and while many of you continue to lie about or hide your intentions. We'll catch you on the flip side.

Adam Singer said...

I'm on the side of Chris, in that he DID disclose.

But you bring up something I didn't even consider. It would have been cooler if he did, say, an Apple store writeup. It would have fit the demographic better, and he wouldn't have caught the flack that he did.

I think he caught flack due to the brand he chose to associate with.

Scott Lackey said...

Anonymous:

Thanks for writing. The world has room for many viewpoints.

A few things I'd respectfully ask you to consider.

1. There are enormous difference between Starbucks and Kmart.

2. Empirically, this might help. Typically Starbucks ranks in the top 10 most admired brands in the U.S.
Look at Business Week, Fortune or Forbes surveys & many others.

3. Kmart (Sears) doesn't show up and typically ranks as one of the two least admired retailers.

4. Which, Anonymous, would you like to have your personal brand associated with?

5. Other brands in the top 10 are Apple (1) Google (top 5), FedEx (top 10), GE, Johnson & Johnson.

6. I'd suggest most of those high-tech companies are a better match for Chris.

7 I'd also suggest, if we want to follow your logic, given the Dad/kids experience, he's be better served associating his brand with J&J.

8. I'm not jealous of Chris one bit. Please reread the post. It's filled with admiration.

9 The purposes here was to further the debate in the personal branding area...which was not discussed.

10. I strongly believe being called a liar and predicting failure for my business in 2009 is an unfortunate karma for you, Anonymous. Oh well...I, instead, wish you all the best. Have a happy and prosperous New Year.

Thanks for your visit.

Best,
Scott

Scott Lackey said...

Adam:

Thanks for your comment. See my post below.

I agree completely. Much better brands to associate with.

Happy Holidays,
Sccott